A second chance. Wouldn’t it be nice to be given the opportunity to do something that we did over again?

We all make mistakes. But most of the time we are told to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat them. We are rarely told that our mistakes can be reversed.

Well, Elkhorn City Council, now is your chance. You have the rare opportunity to both learn from your mistakes and make it right.

Last fall, the council voted 4-2 to deny a conditional-use permit for New Beginnings APFV to convert the old Aurora Health Care Clinic in Elkhorn to a support center for women and children fleeing domestic violence. A civil suit was filed against the city, and the case was reviewed by Judge Daniel Johnson. Judge Johnson said the city’s elected leaders presented no factual basis for rejecting the proposal. He has ordered the city officials to reconsider the proposal, ruling they improperly denied the permit.

You might have been swayed by one alderman’s claim that parking is inadequate based on his measurements with his personal tape measure. (Really?) The truth is that a certified plat was done and the required parking spaces were accurately depicted on the architect’s rendering.

You might have believed some claims that crime will increase. The offenders will bring guns and violence to the neighborhood. Multiple shelters across the state of Wisconsin were contacted by New Beginnings staff and board members. Every director or program manager of the shelters stated that because of increased security and police patrolling of the shelters, the neighborhoods are actually safer. Abusers are cowards. Abuse happens behind closed doors. They don’t come outside to be seen in public.

You might have felt the area is residential and historical. True, there are many beautiful and historical homes in the area. But you forget that it is across the street from government buildings, restaurants and retail. The building was built and used for office purposes. The area is zoned mixed.

It has been said that the center will bring in transients. Violence happens in homes. In homes that are in neighborhoods. The women and children who will be staying there are your neighbors. They are your children’s playmates and the ones who stand next to you in the check-out lane and worship with you at church.

You listened to the loud, oftentimes threatening nay-sayers and NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard). You did not vote according to the law. You voted on personal preference and speculation.

Your second chance is here. Do what is right. Do what is just. The special city council meeting is Monday. Consider your next vote carefully.

Your vote can give women and children living in fear and violence a second chance, too.

Ruth Ann Morava lives in Williams Bay and is a board member of New Beginnings APFV.

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